Employing your First Employee – A Match Made in Heaven

If, like many small businesses, you have found the recession is an excellent, if surprising, time to grow your firm, you may face the possibility of doubling your workforce; by hiring your first employee.  It’s a sure sign that your business is doing well, however, unless you run an HR agency the chances are that finding the right person is not your area of expertise.  Finding the right employee can be hugely rewarding, allowing your business to grow further and take on yet more employees, but making a mistake at this stage can be, to put it mildly, disastrous.  So how do you find that perfect match?

Pre Interview Tips

  • Planning is everything, as ever.  Create a job description for the role.  Firstly, list key responsibilities and then expand this to more fully describe the requirements.  You may find that there are small details during this process that you would have otherwise overlooked.

  • There are a whole range of advertising opportunities, from shop windows to recruitment sites and resume sites.  Advertise on several of these; try to focus your search as you don’t want to be swamped by applicants – although given the state of the employment market this may well happen!

  • For professional recruitment help you may decide to use an agency, this can take some of the pressure off yourself, but for many small businesses the working relationship with your new employee will be a close one and you should be as closely involved at all stages as possible.

  • Prepare your questions for interview well in advance and stick to these with each individual.  You can tailor specifics for each one based on their application or resume, but to create an equal chance for all always use a basic set of questions.

  • Check resumes and applications closely.  One thing to avoid at this stage is discrimination.  Apart from the obvious legalities, assumptions are full of pitfalls.  Those from ‘poor’ neighbourhoods and ‘bad’ schools who have worked hard to gain qualifications may already have demonstrated some strong personal qualities.  Older applicants come with a host of life skills built-in, which can be incredibly useful in small firms.  Don’t discount anyone and try to think beyond the obvious.

Interviewing Candidates

  • There are a range of useful tools on the internet that can be used at interview stage, including character assessments and skill tests.  These are useful, but don’t completely discount gut instinct.

  • Make time for the interviews, this is a crucial stage in the life of your business and it deserves not to be rushed.  Interview between three and six candidates as a minimum and allow at least thirty minutes per interview.

  • Have your rejection letters and offer letter ready in advance; a good candidate is likely to be in demand, if you find one, don’t give it chance to slip away.  Obviously we’re not talking at interview stage, but be prepared to make time to make your decision and then act on it promptly.

  • Don’t skimp on background checks, offers can always be made subject to references.  Follow up references and be sure that you are happy before confirming the appointment.

Final Words

There are two sensible approaches to employing any employee; a trial period is a good idea and is standard in most industries.  Payroll software should never be an afterthought and should be in place, ready and working and you should be familiar with it before your employee starts.


Author bio

Simon Wilson blogs about small business issues and general business help for SME's, covering everything from ‘how businesses can use make use of Social Media’ to’ tutorials for QuickBooks online accounting’. When he’s not online Simon enjoys swimming, cycling and travelling around the many sights of Europe.